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Toronto FC sign Brazilian Gilberto as latest designated player

Toronto FC have made their first big splash of the offseason by signing Brazilian Forward Gilberto from Internacional. He will join the club as a designated player and was unveiled to fans and the media on Friday afternoon.

For our lady readers out there...
For our lady readers out there...
Martin Bazyl Photography

The contract has been signed, the press conference has been held, and the shirt has been posed with.  With all that out of the way we can now officially consider Gilberto a Toronto FC player.  His signing was made official by the club at a press conference on Friday afternoon during which the club confirmed that Gilberto would become their newest designated player and would be added to the roster once they receive his International Transfer Certificate and Visa in the coming day.

The press conference itself was nothing special with Gilberto, Ryan Nelsen, and Tim Bezbatchenko all present.  The fact that Tim Leiweke was absent, he is out of town, speaks to the fact that this is probably not the big signing that he has been talking about so much but rather another piece of the puzzle to build the team around that potential big name DP.  The trio up front said all the things you would expect them to say about how Gilberto is young, motivated, and has the potential to be a top player in MLS for years to come.

There were some chuckles from observers when Gilberto suggested that he was coming to Toronto to have a chance to win trophies.  Apparently watching the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs both lose games was not enough to make him wary of MLSE's ability to actually win things.  He also noted that a big part of why he signed was the fact that Ryan Nelsen came to talk with him and laid out the club's plans moving forward and that helped convince him that it would be a good fit.

The team's official release on the deal had the following quotes from GM Tim Bezbatchenko which are quite similar to what he had to say during the press conference:

"Gilberto is a great DP addition to our roster. He's young, incredibly talented and a proven goal scorer at every level he's played," said Toronto FC General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. "The Brazilian Serie A is one of the best leagues in the world and acquiring a top striker from that league is a testament to the faith Gilberto has in what we are doing at our Club."

"We promised our fans back in September that this Club would make bold moves this offseason and that they should evaluate our progress in January. We feel that this is a key step and we will continue to work towards delivering on that promise over the next month."

The team seems to be excited to have Gilberto on board and for good reason.  Not only is he coming off an impressive season in Brazil but he looks and sounds like exactly the kind of player that Ryan Nelsen loves to have in his squad.  Gilberto has a sturdy build and is willing to put it to use to cause defenders problems which is something that Nelsen noted in the press conference noting he was glad he did not have to be the one to defend Gilberto.  His work rate and effort are also traits that seem to get mentioned a lot when discussing the type of player that he is and that willingness to hassle defenders fits well with the high pressure system that Nelsen tried to play at times last season.

Gilberto will certainly not be the final piece of the puzzle but he is a big piece of it.  The most exciting part out of all this activity might just be the timing of it as the club is making quick work of their offseason business for a change.  They have Gilberto under contract by the middle of December which gives them a full month to get him settled into Toronto before having to worry about preseason and gives the player a full three months to get himself ready for the MLS season.  That is a lot of time when you consider the way that TFC has thrown rosters together at the last minute in the past.

With Gilberto now on board fans can look forward to seeing who the other DP signing will be and just which veteran MLS players the club is able to secure.  If they keep making moves at their current rate we could be looking at TFC actually entering preseason with a stable roster for the first time in their history.